Space travel always becomes the most desired thing for over a century. Although we have no adequate technology to explore the space, the scientists are never tired to try and discover technologies that give us more chance to travel the universe. At least for further exploration about the space.
If you are a huge fan of Star Wars, then the concept of Ion Thrusters is not a new thing. Luckily, this is a real thing and used by the NASA Dawn’s which was launched in September 1997 for exploring and learning the dwarf planets; Vesta and Ceres.
When the electrons hit the xenon atoms, the Ion Thrusters will work and it results ions. This concept requires less fuel yet 10 times more effective than the chemical ones. Furthermore, this allows Dawn to get power from solar panels which means will give them a lot of energy without building the fuel storage.
However, Ion Thrusters needs more development so it creates more possibility to transport humans faster.
The biggest problem we should face when going for space travel is the amount of fuel. In the 1960s, there was one attempt to solve this problem with the discovery of Bussard Interstellar Ramjet.
The concept of Bussard Interstellar Ramjet is the spacecraft will collect the protons while traveling the space. If the collected protons are able to fuse together, later the spacecraft can use the nuclear rockets. Right now the only existed problem in the Ramjet is its ability to collect a huge amount of protons. Besides, getting a stable nuclear fusion is also another scientist concern for now.
Nuclear Pulse Propulsion
Back in the 1950s, scientists tried to use nuclear power to launch a spaceship. It was the Project Orion by NASA with its spaceship as big as the Empire State Building. This was planned to be launched by exploding the nuclear bomb.
However, nuclear sounds dangerous with a tremendous amount of radiation left behind. The worst is the electromagnetic pulse which will wipe out all the electronics. Furthermore, what if the launch was unsuccessful?
After all, Orion used the normal propulsion with 18 months trip. However, the idea remains existed such as on the launch of Voyager 1, Voyager 2 and also the Cassini spacecraft.
Laser Beamed-power Propulsion
It was Leik Myrabo who found the idea of using the laser beamed-power propulsion when he was working on the Star Wars missile project. His craft would have conical form and then a powerful laser beam would be fired right at the end of its cone. It would contain a parabolic reflector which would heat the air up to 30,000 degrees. This would make explosion and result thrust. Myrabo was so sure that he would have a spacecraft in 20 years, but his friends are skeptical about the technology of laser would be adequate.
Daedalus Interstellar Spacecraft
The project was similar to Orion that Daedalus Interstellar Spacecraft used the fusion engines. The electron beams will ignite the injected fuel pellets. At the first stage, this will bring 46,000 tons of fuel and once on the space, this spacecraft will bring the smaller part around 46,000 tons of fuel.
Unfortunately, the fuel needed was Helium-3 which is so rare to find in the Earth. Scientist believed it is available in the moon and the clouds in the space which will take around 20 years to collect them. However, if it could work on the spaceship, this helps us to travel at 12.2% speed of light which will help human to reach Barnard’s Star in 50 years.
The worst part of traveling in space is heavy radiation. For example, if an astronaut is doing a trip to Mars in 1000 days, the chance of having cancer due to the radiation might be bigger from 1%-19%. This is why physicists from MIT believed the best way to travel space is by landing on an asteroid. After that, we can make tunnel bellow its surface.
However, the asteroid we need should have 33 feet wide and is located between Earth and Mars. Before 2100, there are some asteroids that might be used to implement this concept. However, this is impossible to make a round trip.
Even though sail is very conventional, but this technology gets an update which we now can use the sun as power. Even though the solar sail can only give a small push, but its zero friction will continually add more power and it is also faster than chemical propulsion. A solar sail with 1,300 feet wide can travel 1.3 billion miles/year. This is cheaper than fuel.
Even though the solar sail might take a very long time to develop, it will be the most effective way to transport humans to other planets.
A magnetic sail can be the next technology to help human travel the universe. The protons and electrons released by the sun can reach from 248 – 370 miles/second. Using the magnetic sail will allow the protons and electrons to push the space against it. This needs a loop that is made from certain material as the magnetic field.
However, creating the sail will need around 62 miles along which is too big and the material is not available too.
Even though there is no evidence about its existence, the wormholes sound promising to be the next media to help human travel space. It is basically a tunnel in the space. However, scientists believe that the wormholes are unstable and it might be dangerous. To overcome this situation, we need the anti-gravitational force.
On the contrary, the wormholes sound to be fiction that if it is available for human to travel through, it might not be formed naturally. There must be more advanced civilization that constructed it.
For you who are familiar with the Star Trek, the Warp Drive is not a new thing. This warp will allow humans to travel faster in the speed of light. Even though it sounds impossible because we need super mega energy, scientists still believe they will find a way.
Some physicist designed spacecrafts that meet this concept such as Miguel Alcubierre and Dr. Harold from NASA. Miguel Alcubierre designed football-like spacecraft that was supported by a flat circular around it. Unluckily, to power, such design, a ball of Jupiter-size antimatter is needed.
Additionally, Dr. Harold modified ship that was claimed to use less antimatter, only 500 kg. His design can warp space-time in the speed of light. But, the antimatter is super volatile which its 1/3 will result energy as big as Hiroshima bomb. This design needs 1.5 million Hiroshima bombs which are sufficient enough to make mankind extinct.